World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010

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Foreign Policies of Middle Eastern States (441) - Panel
 

· Date: FRI, 23 / 11:30 am - 1:30 pm

· Language: English, Français

· Description:
Chair: Dr. Muhittin Ataman (Abant Izzet Baysal University)

Paper presenter: Ghaidaa Hetou (Ph.D Student-Rutgers University, USA), “Creative Regional Collaboration in Response to Creative Chaos: The Case of Syrian Foreign Policy 2000–2009”
The main Middle Eastern conflict – of Israel and the Palestinians – has provided an ideological backdrop for Middle East regional collaboration for much of the 1950s through the 1980s. The numerous peace negotiations during the 1990s, the attacks on the U.S. in 2001, and the Iraq war in 2003 all have disrupted and factionalized the previous basis for regional collaboration, namely the common purpose of solving the Palestinian plight. Yet, a new type of regional collaboration in response to a new perceived threat is emerging in the Middle East. This new type of regional collaboration is mainly a response to the “New Middle East” and Creative Chaos strategies that in essence formulate a new Mideast mapping. Creative Chaos is rooted in complexity discourse and was introduced as a strategic foreign policy framework in 1997 (Brzezinski). This complexity framework replaced a worldview of “crisis stability” with “crisis instability,” or what Stephen Mann referred to as “Self-Organizing Criticality” in 1997. Creative Chaos becomes not a single-minded pursuit of an objective, such as a blue print for democracy, but rather as an interactive process of modelling desirable scenarios through short-term predictions with little regard for the sovereignty of nation states. Once an entity (country, neighbourhood, etc.) has entered the state of self-organizing criticality, the logic of Creative Chaos discerns that the process should arrive at a new state of stability. The declaration of the New Middle East during the Bush administration was the official onset of the Creative Chaos strategy within the region. This paper will try to demonstrate that since the 1990s, this emerging Creative Chaos strategy has posed an existential threat for states in the region, thereby prompting a regional response. This response is characterized as a new and creative form of regional collaboration not grounded in ideology or old cold war dynamics but rather in strategic indigenous definitions with regard to self-interest and regional stability. This paper will take Syrian foreign policy 2000–2009 as a case study to demonstrate the strategic and “creative” pragmatism involved in this new type of regional collaboration. This paper will try to delineate Syria’s ties with Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah; renewed ties with Iraq and Turkey; and the evolutionary track of Lebanese–Syrian relations during this period, as an example of creative regional collaboration.


Paper presenter: Marta Tawil-Kuri (Dr. International Relations-El Colegio de Mexico), “L'énigme d'une puissance régionale arabe: la Syrie (2001-2008)”
Malgré ses croissantes faiblesses au regard de la politique américaine, la Syrie affiche une volonté de puissance et y réussit en vertu de ses comportements lorsqu’elle engage d’autres acteurs ; les espaces où ces interactions ont lieu ; l’importance accordée à certains dossiers. Or, le contraste entre les moyens dont Damas dispose et ses ambitions est frappant. Par ailleurs, le jeu régional de Damas a abouti à un isolement diplomatique fréquent et a frappé durement les projets de réforme économique. Ces coûts obligent à se poser la question de savoir ce qui pousse un pays comme la Syrie à vouloir les assumer. C’est parce que la Syrie n’a jamais eu beaucoup de choix stratégiques différents que les notions de puissance syrienne et de son affaiblissement sont à repenser: par rapport à quoi, à quand, et à quels objectifs ‘En analysant le comportement de la Syrie entre 2001 et 2008 nous voulons comprendre comment sa volonté de puissance s’ancre, se manifeste, oscille et s’adapte, ainsi que les éléments qui la nourrissent. On examine simultanément trois dimensions de la politique étrangère syrienne (stratégico-militaire, symbolique et économique) comme trois prismes à travers lesquels on peut tracer son adaptation. L’analyse sera développée autour des événements clés, qui sont des moments de crise ou de mutation sur le plan international/régional. Nous construisons l’analyse de manière diachronique, en observant notre cas par dossiers. Le choix de cette démarche répond au souci d’expliquer l’importance relative des trois paramètres dans un spectre du continuum guerre-paix. L’analyse est basée sur de vastes recherches littéraires théoriques, de données issues de la presse syrienne et arabe, et de notre enquête de terrain en Syrie et au Liban. Des évolutions telles que l’éclatement de la scène régionale en acteurs non étatiques et la prédominance progressive d’Etats non-arabes soulignent l’énigme de la puissance syrienne. En outre, elles encouragent à explorer le fait que certains pays veulent mener des engagements régionaux fondés sur une définition contestataire de leurs intérêts, ainsi qu’à explorer le processus d’adaptation des Etats ayant des problèmes de légitimité interne. Le mode de l’adaptation de la politique de puissance syrienne n’est pas toujours une question de délibération soignée, mais requiert une distribution et un emploi différent de ressources. Le cas syrien montre l’importance accrue du rôle complémentaire que jouent les ressources intangibles et symboliques.

Paper presenter: Dr. Muhittin Ataman (Asociate Professor-Abant Izzet Baysal University, Turkey), “Reconstruction Efforts in Saudi Foreign Policy during the Reign of King Abdullah”
When we consider Saudi Arabian population of 26 million people, its large territories and its natural resources, it is obvious that Saudi Arabia will continue to preserve its geopolitical, geo-strategic, geo-economic and geo-cultural importance in future. With the increasing negative and critical perception of the United States and other Western countries after September 11 towards the Muslim world, the Saudi Kingdom developed an interdependent and multidimensional foreign policy understanding in order to be self-sufficient. Global forces put pressure of the Kingdom as a result of the rapidly changing global balances, the increasing anti-Islamism in the West and the regional instability. Therefore, Riyadh needs to determine its foreign policy according to both regional and global developments. The assumption of King Abdullah as the ruler of the country provided an opportunity to restructure the country’s foreign policy. Significant political, economic and social reforms and institutionalization have been initiated during King Abdullah’s reign. In the first year of King Abdullah (2006), Saudi Arabia attempted to realize the most radical foreign policy restructuring since its foundation. The new king began to pursue a more pragmatic and more rational foreign policy during this transformation of his country’s foreign policy understanding. He pursues an active foreign policy required to be effective in multilateral international platforms and to be less dependent on a single state (the United States) and on a single product (oil). Saudi Arabia, one of the important regional allies of the US, began to pursue a more independent foreign policy by welcoming anti-American leaders such as Chavez, Ahmedinejad and Putin. King Abdullah initiated a close relationship with new partners such as India, Russia, China, Vatican and many other states; and began to play an active role in the Arab world and tried to be an honest broker in regional crises. Dramatic increase in foreign interactions of the new king since his inauguration is indications of his proactive foreign policy.